There are no moral victories in the NBA playoffs.
The Memphis Grizzlies have been more than competitive in their Western Conference quarterfinals series with the Los Angeles Clippers but find themselves on the brink of elimination as they return to Beale Street for Game 5 of the set.
Chris Paul had just two points in the fourth quarter on Monday and was unable to get a shot off before the final buzzer in regulation, but his mastery in overtime has the Clippers on the verge of winning a playoff series for just the second time in the last 36 years.
Paul netted eight of his 27 points in the extra session to go with nine rebounds and seven assists as the Clippers downed the Grizzlies, 101-97, in Game 4 of this tightly-contested NBA first-round series.
"Chris Paul won the game for them down the stretch," Memphis head coach Lionel Hollins said. "He's the problem, we have to solve the problem."
The Clippers last won a playoff series in 2006, when they defeated the Denver Nuggets in the first round, and haven't been to the postseason since then.
Blake Griffin added 30 points, seven assists and five rebounds in Game 4 before fouling out with 2:26 remaining in overtime for Los Angeles, which took a 3-1 series edge.
"Blake was outstanding," Paul said. "He does a great job of picking his spots. He's our horse."
Mike Conley had 25 points to go with eight assists and seven rebounds for Memphis, which overcame a 10-point margin in the final 4 1/2 minutes of the fourth frame to send the contest into an extra session. Rudy Gay poured in 23 points.
Through the first four games, the total margin of victory for both teams is a minuscule 13 points but that is little consolation for Memphis and a frustrated Hollins accused Paul of "flopping" after the Game 4 setback, although he did back off of that a bit Tuesday saying that the All-Star is too good at creating fouls and his team needs to play smarter and stop worrying about punishing Paul.
"We don't need to be macho in those situations," Hollins said. "We need to go out and play and be macho and get the ball off the glass and get the ball in the post and get the ball up the court and defend."
Only eight NBA teams have rallied to win a series after trailing 3-1 with Phoenix rebounding to top the LA Lakers in 2006 being the last.
"We have to win one game, that's the game here at home before us and that's basically all we can worry about," Hollins said.
Memphis also lost two of three meetings against the Clippers in the regular season. These two teams have never met in the postseason before.
Game 6 of the best-of-seven series, if necessary, is set for Friday back in Los Angeles.